Trip Reports

Trip Report: Lost Beach Day 5

Day 5 By the time we woke up, the only other family staying at Lost Beach was gone. On our porch we found two Red Stripes, half a bottle of Coruba rum, and a half empty can of OFF!. The milk we got at Hi-Lo has spoiled by now, so no more milk and cereal breakfasts for the kids. I stumble to the restaurant, place orders for all of us, and return for a few more minutes of sleep. By the time we’re all ready for breakfast, it’s ready for us. I highly recommend the french toast stuffed with bumpy bananas…mmmmm. After breakfast one of the fishing boats (more like a large canoe) pulled in. A small group of villagers had gathered around to buy dinner. We noticed Mark there, and he motioned us over. Everyone, including us, was hanging over the edge of the boat to see the catch inside. I asked Mark if I could take a picture. “Yeah, man, it’s ok”, he responded, but then a flurry of angry patois erupted. Apparently, the fisherman thought Mark was profiting from his labor, and wasn’t happy about it. The compromise was that when we took the picture, the fisherman and a few of his supporters quickly stepped out of the way. I didn’t understand what was going on until later when I asked Mark about it. Later still, Steve told my wife that he doesn’t deal with that particular fisherman, even though his relationship with the rest of the villagers seems great. Why? He just doesn’t like him. I also think some of the old-timers may resent Mark and his American ways. Even Courtney says that most Jamaicans don’t like dyed hair. I made arrangements with Karel to go into Negril in the afternoon. Since Dennis was at the airport dropping off one family, and was expected to pick up more guests there that evening, we would have to have a different driver. We had met another Lost Beach driver named Boysie earlier, but apparently he was also unavailable. Karel reassured me that there was another driver that they use all the time, and we would be in good hands. Lost Beach has two vans with the logo on the side, but our driver for the day arrived in an unmarked taxi. His name was Mr. White, which was unusual. Every other Jamaican I had met was introduced with a first name only, often a nickname in place of his or her real name. But I never heard Mr. White referred to as anything else. I later asked Al why that was. He shrugged and said that was the only name he had ever heard for him as well. Anyway, Mr. White could easily have a career as a bouncer or bodyguard. The man was huge! We asked him to take us to the duty-free shopping center in Negril; I forget its name now. On the way his cell phone rang. It was Karel at Lost Beach wanting to know if we could be expected back for dinner. I had forgotten…we were the only guests now, so I guess our presence would be missed! Mr. White told her we were planning on dinner at the Pickled Parrot. We weren’t too impressed with the duty-free shops. On one side was a row of expensive jewelry stores. On the other some stores with T-shirts and tacky souvenirs. Not really much in between. You could get cuban cigars to smuggle home, or rum, or blue mountain coffee, or those sarongs they sell on the beach. That’s about it. Our next stop was the Pickled Parrot, on the cliffs in Negril. The kids had been looking forward to this, as there was supposed to be a water slide and swinging ropes. We insisted that Mr. White join us for dinner, but he only agreed to come in and have a fruit punch. The Parrot was a big disappointment for us. First of all, the water slide was broken, and the kids had really been looking forward to that. Secondly, my rum punch was served in an awfully small plastic cup for the price that was charged. Finally, we ordered three hamburgers and the waitress came back to our table to inform us that they only had one! Once our family gets in the mood for something, they don’t get out of it too easily, so Mr. White suggested we try someplace else. Before we left, we did a little snorkeling at the bottom of the cliff. It was getting late in the day, not too much to see down there. I would like to have gone into a cave we saw in the water, as Mr. White told us there was a bar in there. One more thing to come back for. Mr. White didn’t want to tell us where to go next (although I think I may have caught him looking longingly at Xtabi), so I suggested Rick’s. It was getting close to sundown, and you can’t go to Negril without seeing one sunset from Rick’s, can you? I began to suspect that this wasn’t such a good idea when Mr. White declined our invitation to join us, and said he would wait right outside. Rick’s was crowded, but we had expected that. When we were at Riu, we saw a party boat called “Wild Thing” depart from the beach every day for lunch at the Pickled Parrot and dinner at Rick’s. Other Lost Beach guests had told us they couldn’t even get into the Parrot for lunch, and we saw that we were going to have the same problem at Rick’s for dinner. There was going to be a long wait for a table, and I still didn’t see any burgers. So I suggested we have a drink, watch some cliff divers and the sunset, and get the heck out of here. My rum punch was a lot bigger than the one at the Parrot, but I would swear there was no rum in it. The sunset on the cliffs was nice, and I’m sure a lot of young honeymoon couples just love the party atmosphere, but after a few days in Hope Wharf, this place seemed so…. un-Jamaican? We’ve been to places just like it in Florida and Mexico. We climbed into our taxi and Mr. White asked “where to?”. We all looked at each other and didn’t have to say a word. Mr. White called Karel and told her to expect us for dinner after all. We were going home. “If a peacock lays an egg on the very top of a mountain, and the wind is blowing very strong from the North, and just a little from the East, which way will the egg roll?” This is Mr. White, entertaining the kids with questions designed to discover if they are listening. My wife insisted that he have dinner with us at Lost Beach; he insisted that his wife would probably have some food waiting for him when he arrived home late that evening. My wife can be very persuasive. First, he agreed to stopping for a fruit drink. Romy put a variety of fruit in the blender, and served him a big smoothie. I had the same, but with rum. Once he was seated with his drink, it wasn’t hard to convince him to have a small plate of food. I had made my first concerted effort at a phone call that day. I found out that Al and Karel would be perfectly happy to let me use their phone to call home, but I was only allowed to make a collect call. Collect calls to voicemail don’t work too well, but I knew that the duty-free mall would have pay phones, where I could call the States with a credit card, so I figured I would try there. After being in Hope Wharf for a few days, Negril (which had once seemed like a tropical paradise) suddenly seemed like the big city, and I just couldn’t bring myself to make a call which would put me back in the rat race. I stared at the credit card phone for awhile, reading the instructions that would take me back to the U.S., and decided it just wasn’t worth it. Some time that evening, more guests arrived at Lost Beach. It was a young couple, obviously tired from the trip. They had traveled across the country before finally making that last leg to Montego bay. By the time Dennis brought them through the mountains to Little London, it was already dark. I tried to imagine what they must be thinking, travelling down that dirt road in the dark, miles from nowhere, with only Dennis’ smile to light the way. Then stopping by the bar for a drink before bed, exhausted from the long day of travel. Here they would find the doves; and a family of four seated with a giant Jamaican, laughing and telling tales as only Jamaicans can; and another couple who had driven a scooter all the way from Negril to find their waiter Romy, who had once, years ago, served them at Xtabi; and a woman quietly reading a mystery novel and drinking white wine. What must they think of this place, of this country? Incidentally, peacocks don’t lay eggs; that job is reserved for peahens.


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Dr. JohnMcIntyre